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Published: Friday, 7/16/2010

New company to take after-hours calls for physicians

BY ALIYYA SWABY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Eight of 10 operators at the Service Bureau of the Academy of Medicine of Toledo and Lucas County will leave their jobs when the answering service is transferred to a separate company at the end of the month.

Since 1925, the Service Bureau has given patients a way to contact their doctors affiliated with the Toledo Academy of Medicine after regular office hours.

Those calls will be answered by the Maumee telecommunications company Unique Personal Communications Inc. effective July 31.

Operators were notified of the decision June 23 and were given the opportunity to work for the new company.

The move was purely a financial decision, because the Toledo Academy of Medicine's answering service was competing with private commercial carriers with better deals for subscribers, said Lee Wealton, executive director of the bureau.

Doctors who subscribed to the Service Bureau can instead subscribe to Unique Personal Communications for the same service or switch to a different service if they choose.

But Mr. Wealton said the operation should be "seamless" with doctors and patients receiving the same services as before.

Kal Chaudhari, a spokesman for Unique Personal Communications, said he interviewed operators to give them the chance to keep their jobs.

He said the company is looking to hire five to seven additional operators.

"Those who wanted to work with us did," he said. "There's actually a net gain of jobs as opposed to a loss of jobs."

Gail Osborne, current supervisor for the Service Bureau, will lose her job after 22 years with the Academy of Medicine and described the change as a "shock."

She said two operators definitely plan to work for Unique Personal Communications and the other eight may eventually decide to work for the new company.

She had the opportunity to work for Unique Personal Communications, but declined in favor of a career change.

"I plan on taking a couple of classes, just to change what I'm doing," she said.

Dr. Michael Stark, a physician and former president of the Academy of Medicine, said the change would be beneficial to subscribers because they would be getting the same service at a cheaper price.

Mr. Wealton said he sent a letter July 7 telling subscribers of the transition and has gotten little feedback since then.

Contact Aliyya Swaby at:

aswaby@theblade.com

or 419-724-6050.



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